Sri Lanka – “The finest island of its size in all the world”– Marco Polo
Basic Facts of Country?
|Official Name:||Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka|
|National Emblem of Sri Lanka:||
Buddhist (official) 70.2%
Roman Catholic 6.1%
other Christian 1.3%
Sinhala (official and national language) 74%
Tamil (national language) 18%
English widely spoken
|Currency:||Sri Lankan rupee (R/- or Rs.)|
|International Dial Code of Sri Lanka:||+94|
|Usual Working Hours:||Monday to Friday usually from: 9am-5pm|
|Popular Sport:||Cricket, Volleyball, Rugby Union|
|Entry Requirements/ Tourist Information:||
Official Tourism Site:
|Exchange Rate:||Google Finance Converter|
|Sri Lanka Time Zone : UTC/GMT||UTC+05:30|
Places of Interest?
Emergency Phone Numbers:
|Police Emergency Hotline||118 / 119|
|Ambulance / Fire & rescue||110|
|Accident Service-General Hospital-Colombo||011-2691111|
|Government Information Center||1919|
|Emergency Police Mobile Squad||011-5717171|
|Fire & Ambulance Service||011-2422222|
- Try to keep kissing and affection on the low – Sri Lankan’s believe this should be done behind closed doors and not in public
- Sri Lankan’s are very friendly and always smile. They are easy to approach and always happy to give directions. (Personal experience)
- They like staring- looking at people is in their culture as it signifies honesty or curiosity – should not be taken as a threat (In western culture staring at someone is usually seen as either a threat or because you want to make love so don’t worry when in Sri Lanka).
- In Sri Lanka, when someone shakes their head from side to side with a slight wiggle (kind of like a half yes and half no), it actually means “yes.”
- When taking pictures in temples don’t have your back towards the Buddha statue as it is very disrespectful. Also, don’t take pictures of soldiers or military complexes because they will think you’re up to something sneaky (probably shouldn’t do this in any country).
Travelling in Sri Lanka:
- Three Wheelers (Tuk -Tuk) – ideal for short trips
- Train Service from City to City
- Or, get a designated driver (Don’t use the buses unless you are familiar with your locations)
Where to stay:
- VISA extension is shocking and unorganized, so brace yourself if you want to say longer than 30 days.
- Driving is a nightmare so better to get a tuk-tuk or a local designated driver
- Heatstroke – stay hydrated
- When visiting temples, shoes have to be taken off. Walking bare foot on the hot pavement can be very painful, so bring some thick socks (better write it on a piece of paper now so you don’t forget—lots of tourist forget that’s why!).
- Get a tour guide when visiting the ancient monuments – this way you’ll appreciate it more
- Carry antibacterial wipes for hygiene
- Think twice before eating from small carts in rural areas because your stomach may not be strong enough
- Carry multiple water bottles with you
Sri Lanka’s electricity: 230–240V, 50 cycles A/C
Round, three-pin sockets is the most commonly used. Nothing to fear, because adapters are very cheap and widely available in Sri Lankan shops.
You can get mobile phone coverage almost anywhere on the island except of course in national parks and very rural areas.
If you’re staying in Sri Lanka for a while, its probably cheaper buying a sim card from a mobile company in Sri Lanka (if your phone is unlocked). The cards are usually less than $10 and you will be given a new number and receive domestic rates Rs 15 per minute for international calls, and around Rs.5 for local calls.
The main operators: (if you see these symbols on shops- it means they sell them)
You can buy and top up your sim card just about anywhere because the mobile phone business in Sri Lanka is very competitive. However its better to buy your SIM card in major towns. This is because they would have had experience dealing with tourists and understand what it is that you need from them (eg, local, international, etc). Also note that there aren’t too many public phone booths in the country.
- Coins come in denominations of Rs.1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 50.
- Notes come in denominations of Rs.10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000.
Usually every major town has at least 3 or 4 of Sri Lanka’s major banks and at least 1 ATM. Banks are opened from (8 or 9 am) until (2 or 3 pm) and are closed on weekends. The best ATMs are from Commercial Bank (accepts both Visa and Mastercard) and are usually the most reliable. Hatton is good as well.
The 6 main banks are:
- Commercial Bank
- The Bank of Ceylon
- Hatton National Bank
- Sampath Bank
- People’s Bank
- Seylan Bank